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Harringay, Haringey - So Good they Spelt it Twice!

I've half wondered about that yard on Tottenham Lane at the bottom of the stairs from Hornsey station and mused about what its original use was. The other day I came across the two photos above in the less sorted part of my historical photo collection. They began to make sense of it. Both date from around 1905. One is looking at the outside of the station from Tottenham Lane. The other is looking out from one of the platforms.

I wanted to find out if there was a name for that little yard before adding these photos. In doing so, I realised that the old OS maps tell something of the story of the development of the station.

The earliest mention I can find of the station predates its appearance on any map.

'Talks of Old London' from, London Evening News, June 21, 1910

Turning to the maps, we start 19 years after the station was opened with the 1869 map. We see a twin-track railway. One track feeds out to the goods depot to the east and another to some sidings to the west. The railway then resumes its twin-track form.

The station is at street level, set back from Tottenham Lane behind green spaces. At its front is a yard area, probably for carriages and carts. The station appears to consist of two buildings, set back behind the Railway Hotel. At the southern end of the yard a track runs east and then is carried over a bridge and on to the Queen's Head on Green Lanes (Before Harringay House was built, the track extended all the way to Hornsey Wood House, in today's Finsbury Park, crossing the winding New River over four bridges before reaching its destination).

Less than a quarter of a century later, the 1893 map, shows that things have developed. The twin-track line has multiplied and Hampden Road had been laid out and extended from Wightman Road to the edge of the railway. The goods shed has been re-sited somewhat to the south. The river and cart track are gone and the many fingers of Ferme Park Sidings have appeared.

At the station, the buildings on Tottenham Lane have been extended and a second platform with waiting rooms has been added. To accommodate the new arrangements, a passenger bridge has be built. But it is not the bridge we know today. It is somewhat to the south of where the current one is and does not yet align with Hampden Road, nor does it include a higher level ticket hall. It looks like at least the foundations are in place for extending the platforms further north.



On Tottenham Lane, a Royal Mail sorting office has been built, facing the station. There's another building opposite it and a cluster of three small buildings just to the north of the entrance to the station yard. The 1893 Kelly's Directory helps us out with what they might have contained. The listing runs south to north, starting with the Railway Hotel.

Hornsey Station and the Railway Hotel, c1905

Just twenty years later and things have developed still further. Trackside, the multitude of tracks that characterise today's Hornsey have appeared. Just off the map, Hornsey bridge, over Turnpike Lane, has been widened to accommodate the main railway tracks. The goods shed has been enlarged for use as an engine shed.

At the station, the platforms have been extended and what is probably the bridge we use today has been built. It connects to the new ticket hall (visible in both the top photo and the 1962 one, below). The street level station building behind the station yard appears to have been demolished.

The 1909 Kelly's shows what had become of the buildings to the north of the station entrance. I'm not sure which fits where. Off the map, there was another building at the corner of the junction with Turnpike Lane. So that perhaps accounts for Brown the Builder.

The 1915 map gave the broad outline of the station today, but not quite. The 1954 map below shows that a new platform had been built in the old forecourt, perhaps for goods only. We can also see the addition of a train turntable to the east of the line, just at the end of the pedestrian footbridge (the northern edge of the turntable was under where the tall fir trees now grow). 

TCB is an abbreviation for telephone call box.

The 1962 train buff's picture of the Flying Scotsman, below, shows Hornsey station in 1962. Both platforms seem still to be functioning on two sides. The old higher-level ticket office is still in situ. 

Today, the two platforms serve only one side each, the Tottenham Lane goods platform is gone, as is the old ticket hall. I don't know what led to the demolition of the latter of those. Harringay's went following a fire.

So, to answer my question, what's now the garage (of sorts) started its railway life as the forecourt for the old station, all fringed with green spaces and ended it as some sort of goods yard. 

All the above is sourced from original research, mainly using primary documentation. 

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Replies to This Discussion

Of interest to me is less the rationalisation of Hornsey shed and Ferme Park Sidings, and more the way the main line has changed. It appears to be four lines in each direction, including a through road even in 1954.

Today the through road is the Down Fast (ie out of London) and the old up inner platform is the Up Fast, and one line each way has been removed (this is a bit of a simplification but it’ll do) - a decline in local goods traffic will have facilitated this when the area was resignalled in 1977, I imagine, plus the move to track circuit block which would have improved the throughput of each line.

In light of the thousands of stations around England which have old derelict station buildings in situ (including, in fact, a little bit of Hornsey on the up side), there must have been a reason to remove them. Aside from general building condition, there may have been asbestos, or the buildings may have been considered in the way of the impending electrification.

All this on a backdrop of a contracting railway, of course.

Excellent research, as always, Hugh.

Thanks, Dave. My knowledge on railways is pretty much non-existent. So my apologies to those with expertise for any gaffes, oversights etc.

No, the apologies should be mine for over-indulging in the operational railway side when there was much more to your post!

I found the 1905 picture of the station exterior and hotel most atmospheric, I initially thought the solitary figure on the left would be a policeman but it might possibly be a railwayman of some sort - it's not quite large enough to work out what's going on with his hat.

I noted for the first time also your link to your post last Thursday showing the 9F on the turntable you mention - I'm not hugely acquainted with the steam era but I can't imagine a 9F appeared at Hornsey too often.

Most grateful to Gordon for pointing out the electrification impact at Harringay, and the ensuing conversation and photograph - another which portrays an entirely different Harringay to that we live in now - I noted the structure to the right which looks like a signalbox - possibly Hornsey Up Goods?

I've gone down a bit of an internet rabbit hole off the back of all this, so many thanks for this morning's entertainment!

Know all too well about history-related rabbit holes!

"In the way of the impending electrification" - yes by reason of needing to raise over-line structures to increase clearances. At Harringay station footbridge you can see the effect of raising it - the ramp on the east side down to Station Approach is now excessively steep at the street end (an old picture pre-electrification shows it less steep and with a straight rather than curved profile).

There's a pic from the bottom of the slope in 1957 here.

Thanks Hugh, that's the one. I see it shows part of a large painted advertisement for

Steve[ns & Steeds] Gro[cers] on the side of the shop of S & S.

The dry cleaners now in place have revealed and regilded the shop front sign.

I'm really unsure about this too, but is it partly a rationalisation to speed up certain routes? Thus Hornsey and Harringay are skipped by the Welwyn locals, and are only served by the Hertford Loop locals now?

A few years back there was a lot of discussion about future services on the line, including whether Harringay and Hornsey would be served by the new Thameslink trains. The problem being that the platforms were no longer there on those tracks, and that the current track configuration makes it very difficult to reinstate them at one of the stations without enormous expense.

Not totally true. There are four trains an hour to Welwyn Garden City - two of them are all stations and two skip Harringay and Hornsey.

Quite right, I was being lazy. Point being, though, that not all trains stop there because of the lack of platforms.

An interesting quandary, but if anything the move in recent years has been to more services and less skip stops.

The simplification in my first post was such as to disregard the fact there were 6 passenger lines: a through road, a down fast and slow, and an up fast, up slow 1 and up slow 2. These were flanked by a goods line emanating from the sidings at Ferme Park on the down side and a through line on the up side depot. Thus a pair of slow lines never had platforms at Hornsey.

In any case, fast line platforms at stations such as this simply wouldn’t exist in any format on today’s railway - see how they’re managed at stations like Hanwell (Great Western), Wembley Central (West Coast) and even some of the stations on the lines out of Victoria. Finsbury Park’s are very rarely used since the platform 1 work was completed. Ally Pally’s layout never had a platform on the down fast since the resignalling, but for flexibility an up fast platform face was retained. When work was completed to add a new platform on the Up Slow 2, this face was fenced off.

Such works might be possible on the up platform at Harringay (seeing as how it is an island between the two slow lines), but the down slow 2 is constrained by the joining chord from the Goblin, and the headshunt to Ferme Park sidings. At Hornsey the situation is reversed - an expensive rationalisation may allow a second down platform such as that one at AP, but the up slow 2 is constrained by the depot tracks.

Moral of the tale is, as you identified most concisely, that nothing is impossible, but for this exceptionally busy, cramped section of railway, it is staggeringly improbable.

Thanks Hugh for this interesting piece.  May I ask whether the map of which you show an extract actually labels the Stonebridge Brook as being near Hornsey station?  I always thought it was a good bit further south and passed under a short railway viaduct which also provided access to the western carriage drive from Harringay House.  I have marked  a stream in blue on the attached map which does not, unfortunately, label it.

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